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Nazi war suspect, 89, dies as extradition OK'd by court

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An 89-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect died in custody hours before a U.S. ruling Wednesday that he should be extradited to Germany to face trial.

Johann Breyer died Tuesday night at a Philadelphia hospital, where he had been transferred Saturday after a month in jail, his lawyer and the U.S. Marshals Service said. His death was disclosed Wednesday just as U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice approved the extradition request, which would have needed final U.S. government review.

Rice found probable cause that Breyer was the person being sought by German authorities over his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during World War II.

“No statute of limitations offers a safe haven for murder,” he wrote in his ruling.

U.S. marshals had arrested him in June outside his home in Philadelphia. He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.

“As outlined by Germany, a death camp guard such as Breyer could not have served at Auschwitz during the peak of the Nazi reign of terror in 1944 without knowing that hundreds of thousands of human beings were being brutally slaughtered in gas chambers and then burned on site,” Rice wrote.

Breyer claimed he was unaware of the massive slaughter at Auschwitz and then that he did not participate in it, but “the German allegations belie his claims,” the judge wrote.

/ July 23, 2014, 4:28pm / 32

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Photograph

Men of the American 77th Division receiving instruction in camouflage from a British instructor at Moulle, 22 May 1918.

Men of the American 77th Division receiving instruction in camouflage from a British instructor at Moulle, 22 May 1918.

Source / July 23, 2014 / 74

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Video

French and American daylight patrol leaving the trenches, Badonviller.

July 22, 2014, 5:00pm / 94

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Photograph

Men of the 39th Infantry Regiment digging in near Fresnes, just after the Germans had left.

Men of the 39th Infantry Regiment digging in near Fresnes, just after the Germans had left.

Source / July 22, 2014 / 41

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Photograph

Men of the 37th Division taking enemy trenches/St. Barbe.

Men of the 37th Division taking enemy trenches/St. Barbe.

Source / July 22, 2014 / 23

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Photograph

Back view of a full kit carried in front line by American infantry.

Back view of a full kit carried in front line by American infantry.

Source / July 22, 2014 / 91

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Photograph

Members of the 326th Infantry Regiment attacking German trenches, Choloy.

Members of the 326th Infantry Regiment attacking German trenches, Choloy.

Source / July 22, 2014 / 30

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Photograph

Private T. P. Loughlin of the 69th Regiment, New York National Guard, (165th Infantry) bidding his family farewell/1917

Private T. P. Loughlin of the 69th Regiment, New York National Guard, (165th Infantry) bidding his family farewell/1917

Source / July 21, 2014 / 70

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